Home a labor for generations 

It was Matthew Ward’s first time at the reins in the family business.

His grandfather, 82-year-old Pete Pereira, had turned his impoverished Central Valley background into a successful life, first working as a mechanic and then starting his own company to transport houses, a big business when the nation’s highways were being installed and almost-new homes were standing in the way. He’d retired from that field in the early 1990s to build houses as a spec developer under the Coast House Movers name, and his family sometimes helped out. Among other properties, they built a set of seven homes on San Francisco’s Santos Street, Ward said.

Ward, 28, had learned a number of trades from Pereira: carpentry, electrical, concrete-pouring, plumbing and the like. So last year, he set out to build his first house on his own at Pacifica’s Desvio Court. His grandfather acted as the financier and the liaison to the city government, Ward said, but he did much of the rest of the development work.

"We wanted a nice custom home," Ward said. "We wanted an open floor plan … big kitchen, big great room, formal dining room. The master [bedroom]’s in its own wing … We tried to give it the most outdoor spaces we could. We definitely went for all high-end finishes."

Along the way, he learned a few things. The house is on a lot with a 50 percent grade, so he had to lay a large and expensive concrete foundation. That led to a home of 2,800 square feet — significantly larger than the neighborhood average, but required to make up for the expense of the foundation, Ward said.

He also learned about government procedure, working with subcontractors and other requirements of the development business, he added. In addition, he learned about the vicissitudes of the market, which slowed at the same time the home was completed. Ward, a resident of Pacifica’s Sharp Park neighborhood, hopes to use his experience to build a second spec home there soon.

Because the home has good views of Montara Mountain and a southern exposure, they designed it to let in a good deal of light, Ward said. While working with the slope, he added both decks and patios to make the outdoors more accessible.

Where: Pacifica

Asking price: $1,479,000

Property tax: $19,227*

What: 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, approximately 2,800 square feet

Amenities: Breakfast bar, tub with jets, cul-de-sac lot, double-paned windows, hardwood floors, decks, views, large rooms.

Agent: Alexander Lehr, Lehr Real Estate, (650) 595-5500, www.lehrrealestate.com

*Estimate based on 1.3 percent of asking price.

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